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Fort Walton Beach Estate Planning Attorneys

Advocacy on Estate and Probate Law Matters

At Dowd Law Firm, our estate planning lawyers in Fort Walton help clients throughout the Florida Panhandle region plan for the future and settle the affairs of loved ones who have passed away. If you are taking your first steps into estate planning, need to update an outdated or out-of-state plan, or need help administering a loved one's estate, we look forward to assisting you with any of your concerns in estate and probate law.

By carefully analyzing your situation, circumstances, and wishes, we can guide and assist you to develop a comprehensive plan and help you determine exactly what is needed. We can also help you to prepare all documents and ensure that they are properly signed, witnessed and notarized.

Our estate services include, but are not limited to:

  • Wills and trusts: Your will is the cornerstone of your estate plan and should be carefully drafted to achieve your goals. Depending on your personal circumstances, we may recommend drafting a revocable or irrevocable trust agreement in addition to your will.
  • Asset protection: If you are concerned about protecting your assets from personal and/or business creditors, our attorneys can evaluate your circumstances and advise you on the use of estate planning and entity formation strategies to achieve your objectives.
  • Incapacity planning: Our attorneys draft living wills and powers of attorney to address the needs of clients who are concerned about what will happen if they become incapable of caring for themselves. We also assist clients with the creation of guardianships.
  • Elder care planning: If you are concerned about what will happen to your assets in the event you need to go into a nursing home or receive in-home nursing care, we can help you plan ahead to take full advantage of Medicaid and other government benefits.
  • Estate administration: Our experienced probate lawyers frequently assist personal representatives (executors) with the administration of estates in probate court. We also advise trustees on the administration of trusts and represent parties in estate litigation.

Estate Planning in Florida

Although estate planning and making decisions and implementing plans regarding what happens after death is important, most people fail to adequately plan for the rest of their lives. Traditional estate planning only affects after-death decisions.

Our Fort Walton estate planning attorneys help clients take a holistic approach to account for what happens during life as well as protecting the financial and personal interests of loved ones after death. Having a Fort Walton estate planning attorneys help you create your will or trust is especially necessary if you have complex financial or family situations, such as owning a business or have been divorced.

How Our Fort Walton Estate Planning Attorneys Can Help

Our Fort Walton estate planning lawyers provide tools including:

  • A durable power of attorney: A written, witnessed and notarized power of attorney by which a principal designates another as the principal's attorney, in fact, to make financial decisions and handle financial and business affairs for the principal during the principal's lifetime.
  • Designation of health care surrogate: Written and witnessed document where the principal's desires concerning health care and medical treatment are expressed which includes appointing someone to make medical decisions and deal with doctors on the principal's behalf and/or making anatomical gifts upon death.
  • HIPAA Release: A written document that allows access to that individual's medical records.

Do I Need An Attorney for Estate Planning in Florida?

Estate planning can be complicated; even one missing word or signature can change the whole meaning of a will or trust. In addition, state laws are very specific about what can or cannot be in a will or trust. It is imperative to have an experienced attorney guide you through this complicated process to ensure that every step is taken carefully and correctly.

Is It Better to Have a Will or a Trust in Florida?

Both wills and trusts are effective estate planning methods that serve different purposes. You may also create both a will and trust together to form a complete estate plan. Wills and trusts each have their own advantages and disadvantages.

For example, the administration of a will must be overseen by the court and becomes a public record. Trusts, on the other hand, remain private and do not need to be overseen by the court. An experienced estate planning and probate attorney can help you decide whether to create a will or a trust, or help you set up both.

What is Power of Attorney?

Power of attorney is a legal document that gives another person authorization to act on behalf of another person in legal, medical, business, or private affairs. The four types of power of attorney include general, limited, durable, and medical.

  • General Power of Attorney - General power of attorney is broad. It gives someone more generalized authority over your affairs including entering into contracts or buying or selling real estate.
  • Limited or Special Power of Attorney - Limited or special power of attorney is very narrow. The person you grant this power of attorney (also known as an agent) will be granted very specific actions they can and can't take on your behalf.
  • Durable Power of Attorney - A durable power of attorney will remain in effect until the death of the principle whereas other types of power of attorney will end the moment the principle becomes incapacitated.
  • Medical or Healthcare Power of Attorney - A medical power of attorney allows you to authorize a trusted person to make medical or healthcare decisions if you become incapacitated. Most medical powers of attorney are also considered to be durable powers of attorney.

Handling Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, and Living Wills

Based in Fort Walton Beach, our firm serves clients throughout the Panhandle, as well as out-of-state clients who have estate administration responsibilities in the region. Our Fort Walton estate planning lawyers offer thorough case evaluations to help our clients get started.

To schedule a meeting with one of our Fort Walton Beach attorneys, please contact us at (850) 972-2233.

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